The first ever Smile Awards were presented at the Happiness Day conference in Glasgow last weekend where 11 adult winners and 5 juniors were officially crowned as some of Scotland’s most cheerful and optimistic people.
With over 100 nominations from all parts of Scotland thanks to local press coverage and the 16 winners received their awards from Libby McArthur who is famous for the optimistic character she plays in TV series River City.
The Smile award ceremony took place just before lunch in a day of non-stop laughter and learning as the varied conference programme included laughter yoga, song, poetry and comedy as well as lectures from personal development experts. Conference organiser Kim Macleod said ‘I knew that everyone would learn really interesting stuff about Happiness but I wanted them to have a really good time too so this year I decided to include some live entertainment!’
The party got started with Sharon Miller’s session of Laughter Yoga. It’s a craze that has spread around the world, which works on the theory that laughter, like happiness, is contagious and self-promoting. As soon as you see someone else laughing, you want to laugh yourself, and when you laugh you instantly feel better as your body starts releasing happy chemicals.
It was the perfect introduction for the first speaker, David Hamilton, who witnessed the placebo effect whilst working in the pharmaceutical industry and later wrote How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body. He talked about the scientific connection between a happy mind and healthy body and the extra happiness that you can experience through acts of kindness to others.
he was twelve years old. ‘Even though I knew all about positive psychology and was a trained therapist, I was in a dark place for many months before I could muster any hope or thought of practicing those techniques.’
But she was determined that her family should find its way back to happiness. Six years later she says: ‘There is no magic pill or one action that will boost your happiness for all time. There are a number of small steps that you can take regularly that can make a huge difference to your life’, and she writes about them in her book From Heartbreak to Happiness which was launched at the conference.
In the afternoon Sandy Newbigging gave a talk on mindfulness and how it can help us to achieve happiness, and he was followed by Alisoun Mackenzie whose stories of the positive attitude of genocide survivors in Rwanda inspired delegates.
Keeping up the pace, we were then treated to whacky dancing from Brian Costello who jigged about whilst delivering his lecture based around his expertise in Neuro Linguistic Programming and during which he also told his own journey to self-awareness and confidence. No chance of a siesta during that one!
Finally, after a video link up with the national Smile Award winner Sheila Sinclair, Libby McArthur shared her own happiness stories before the day ended in a festival of song and dance as KT and the Auld Busker took to the stage.
The celebration takes place again next year and Kim Macleod expects she will be looking for a bigger venue in which to hold this festival of fun and learning. Scotland’s national Happiness Day has officially been designated as the first Saturday in November, and the Happiness Day Conference is set for Saturday 1st November 2014.
Photos by Suzanne Galloway
Action for Happiness – The national movement seeking to bring about a happier society with branches all over the country
International Happiness Day – 20 March 2014